Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Autumn training

For anyone looking for ideas for their autumn training regime here is Extreme skiing pioneer Sylvain Saudan with his take on off season training (funnily enough I remember seeing this in 1984 (?) as part of his 'Victoire a Ski sur l'Himalaya film in Courchevel 1650 !! ):

Last dose of the mountains

With big limitations on free time impending there was just time to squeeze in a day out in the mountains. Gary has recently moved to Chamonix and was keen to get out up high for a bit of acclimatisation/climbing.

As I needed to be within phone range & easy 'turn-around' we opted for a combination of two short, easy routes near to the Aiguille du Midi cable car the classic 'guides-combo' of the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal followed by the Cosmiques ridge back up to the Midi station. The Pointes Lachenal lie a short walk across the Col du Midi, and a short 40ยบ slope takes you up on to the ridge for some spectacular views:

A short scramble over the first summit followed by a short abseil and snow ridge lead to the start of the only 'difficulties' on the route - a short rock step with a few big loose blocks to negotiate:

Gary works his way up the open groove to the main summit:

A quick pause to catch our breath on the main top and then it was off again, with a short descent back to the Col du Midi and a quick trudge over to the Abri SImond at the start of the Cosmiques ridge. Well known as a high altitude queue, the ridge was relatively quiet today, and we gave a trio in front of us a good head start before setting off in pursuit.

On the first high point of the ridge we took a variation which avoids the abseil with a lower traverse at the end of which we encountered that rarest of beasts - a Chamonix Guide who asked if we wanted to pass his (slower) party - I have now seen it all!!

The rest of the ridge passed without great incident, pleasant scrambling with one stiff pull at the crux rock wall (shame about the drilled-out crampon slot for footholds).

Whilst never particularly challenging the Cosmiques ridge offers a more interesting way back up to the Midi station (compared to the snow ridge) with the benefit of finishing directly on one of the viewing platforms!

Unfortunately the weather is now set fair but i cannot get out & make the most of it - frustrating to say the least!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Birthday Powder Turns

With several days of rain and cold temperatures, a sunny day forecast, and a birthday today there was only one option... Several messages last night lined up a small team of dedicated ski addicts for a trip up the Aiguille du Midi to see how much snow had come down.

A very non-birthday early start from Bozel got me to Chamonix in time for the 8:15 first lift, which sadly was delayed until 9:30 (ice on the cables) - oh well, plus ca change.

Cedric, Martin & Tom trying to wake up in the lift:

The first section took us out of the early morning valley clouds and into clear skies above:

"It's the ridge, Jim, but not as we know it!"

The ridge leading down from the Midi was in 'spicy' mood, properly knife-edged, with snow of dubious quality on either side. Plans to ski it were quite quickly shelved, and we then found a pair of French Alpine Poodles to test out the stability and put a track in for us...:

Below this the snow on the South face looked to be in great shape.
Cedric preparing to drop in:

First turns for Cedric & Tom, good powder all the way down to the Col du Midi!

Early plans to head up the North face of the Tacul had been shelved due to the delayed start, and secondary plans for some Italian coffee were also shelved as it was obvious there had been a lot of wind with the snowfall, and that a lot of crevasses would be very thinly bridged but very well hidden. We settled in favour of some 'mini-golf' runs on the slopes under the Cosmiques refuge.

Cedric skinning towards the Cosmiques refuge:



Cedric with a Grandes Jorasses backdrop:

Tom in the 'mini-mini-mini Cosmiques couloir':

And again:

Coffee stop at the refuge:

The snow was really quite good on the slopes we skied - good soft powder on a relatively smooth base - not bad for September 20th!

All that remained was a hot skin back up to the Midi ridge, and another airy wander along this to a rapturous welcome by the tourist crowds on the viewing platform...

Not a bad way to spend a September birthday! Roll on next year!

Monday, 12 September 2011


There are plenty of snowsports videos out there, each one 'radder', badder, more HD, more slow-mo than the last. There are also some videos that stir up emotions or give you hope, maybe change the way you look at things...
This video definitely looks like it falls into the latter category - here's the trailer, looking forward to seeing the full film!

The Freedom Chair - Official Trailer from Switchback Entertainment on Vimeo.